How to Work Less as You Approach Retirement

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Reasons Not to Retire in the U.S.
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When it comes to retiring, more baby boomers are finding greener (and cheaper) pastures overseas. MarketWatch's Quentin Fottrell reports on Lunch Break with Lee Hawkins. Photo: Getty

Some people have managed to save enough to retire, but keep working simply to pad an already flush retirement kitty. While calculations point to the fact that we will be OK financially for the rest of our lives, we keep working just to make our finances a bit more secure. For those suffering from this one more year of work syndrome, here are a few ways you can make life more enjoyable even while you continue to work:

Say no more often. Working 9 to 5 can be extremely stressful because we are constantly being asked to produce more. As more responsibilities, more complications and ultimately more hours are added to our work day, a formerly pleasant job suddenly turns into a miserable grind. When you aren't worried about losing your job because you can afford to stop working entirely, just start saying no. Say no to working weekends and overtime. Say no to uninteresting projects. Even say no to promotions. Obviously, you still need to do a competent job, but there's no need to overdo it just to increase your future career prospects since you aren't looking for better opportunities.

Speak up more at work. Don't let the stress build up anymore and become an advocate for change. See something you don't like at work? Voice your opinion. Take action to fix it. Many people are afraid they will be seen as the person who complains and end up losing their jobs, but people who have enough money in the bank to quit don't need to worry about that anymore. If the worst case scenario happens and you are let go, someone just helped you pull the retirement trigger. But if you are successful with the fix, not only will your life at work be better, but the company will value you more and your peers will thank you too, making your work life a lot more enjoyable.

Take all your vacation and sick days. When was the last time you actually took all of your days off? Use those days to recharge. Schedule an annual checkup, watch a movie and go on a vacation. This might be a good way to test drive your retirement as well, since life without work will be quite boring if you can't even find enough activities to fill up all your vacation and sick days.

Ask for reduced time. Many people never realize that working less than full time with the same employer is possible. This could be the best of both worlds because part-time work can still bring structure to a person's life, not to mention the continuous paycheck that's still coming in to ease the anxiety of living off your savings. And if working part time isn't in the cards, at least ask for more vacation days or days you can spend working at home.

Lower your savings rate a bit and spend more of your salary. Since you are theoretically done saving, it might make working longer more enjoyable if you can spend more of the money you are earning those last few years. Just make sure you are spending on discretionary expenses that can easily be scaled back in retirement. Otherwise, you may get used to the higher standard of living and in turn need to raise the assets needed to support that annual spending, making the amount you have saved not enough anymore.

You don't have to stay on the job once you have enough for retirement, but it's still difficult to give up the security of a steady paycheck. If you decide to stick it out, at least take steps to make your life easier.

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